30 June 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez discussed with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) Director General Li Yong the first Unido Country Program for the Philippines, as well as the technical assistance and support for the Philippine National System of Innovation.

“The partnership between the Philippines and Unido will greatly benefit the Filipino people and improve the current state of the country through various technical assistance and support in developmental areas. As the country program is based on the macroeconomic agenda of President Duterte, it will support the government’s drive to reduce poverty and improve industries through the development of human capital, innovation and connectivity in the country,” Lopez said.

The Unido Country Program was crafted in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022. Its framework is based on the country’s national priorities and aims to strengthen collaborations among development cooperation partnerships of the Philippine government.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has identified priority interventions that will benefit from the support and technical assistance from the partnership with the Unido. These will focus on promoting innovation, upgrading industries and facilitating manufacturing resurgence.

During the meeting, the trade chief highlighted the Philippines’s thrust to push for rapid growth in the industry sector through the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S), an industrialization program that will ensure the development of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the value chains.

“Our plan is to promote productivity, innovation and inclusivity in industry development. These will allow participation of those at the bottom of the pyramid and solve the poverty situation,” Lopez added.

Yong commended the government’s programs that reflect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) strategies. He also lauded the Philippines’s growth rate, the country’s initiatives empowering MSMEs, the drive for job and income generation, as well as the government’s efforts of linking MSMEs to the global value chains.

Lopez conveyed the need to include and put emphasis on trade, as well as building the manufacturing capacity in the country program. He said greater human capital, innovation, productivity and resilience are essential in creating stronger manufacturing and export manufacturing base in the country.

“Our success in achieving our goal to balance trade and create surplus depends on capacity building—both physical capacity and human resources. The technical assistance as well as support in these areas are greatly needed,” the trade chief said.

Lopez also mentioned the need to address the power cost, one of the major challenges, as it affects the competitiveness of companies operating in the Philippines.

The Unido Country Program aims to address key issues including challenges in investment and ease in doing business, competitiveness, innovation in the industry sector, skills mismatch (labor force vis-à-vis industry needs), availability of data and statistics (industry sector, especially MSME), productivity-enhancing support services, infrastructure (agriculture, forestry, and fishery sector), and vulnerability to climate and disaster risks.

The DTI has started exploring cooperation with Unido in terms of strengthening the innovation ecosystem for industry and support to private sector innovation. This covers measures to strengthen academe-industry linkages for research and development, commercialization, and financing. It also includes firm-level innovation programs for PH’s priority industries such as electronic manufacturing services, automotive and auto parts, aerospace parts, chemicals, shipbuilding, design-oriented furniture and garments, tool and die, agri-business, information technology and business process management, transport and logistics, tourism, and construction. The institutional strengthening of the Department, government, academe, and industry partnerships was also emphasized.